SCHOOL OPENING: Food Safety Experts Warn Of Contaminated Food Supplies

Most of food served in Ugandan restaurants especially vegetables and fruits are contaminated with aflatoxins and chemicals


KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] In about a weeks’ time (Feb 5) schools will be opening for the 2024 new term, but amidst this, Food Rights and safety experts have expressed their concern regarding the safety of food supplied in Ugandan schools.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35% of total deaths in Uganda are due to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The statistics that are so worrying show that every Ugandan citizen’s probability of dying prematurely from NCDs is 22%. According to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), cancer cases are rapidly rising, with over 4,000 new cases registered annually.

Denis Komakech from the NCD Department in the Ministry of Health NCDs are a major health problem in Uganda and a leading cause of the four major killer NCDs (Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Respiratory Disease, Cancer and Diabetes).

Alarm Bells Raised

Amidst the backdrop of increasing NCDs deaths, food contamination and deaths due to food poisoning especially among the young population in Ugandan schools, the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights  (CEFROHT) with support from the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) are implementing a project to promote healthy diets through legal empowerment and social accountability. Mechanisms and human rights-based participatory and multi-sectoral approach.

David Kabanda the Executive Director CEFROHT told a stakeholders meeting held at the Piato Hotel in Kampala on Thursday that the goal of the project is to create an enabling environment supportive of regulatory measures that promote healthy diets by working across sectors and engaging communities.

“Our slogan is :When its not safe, its not food. NCDs contribute to 4 million deaths globally, all as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices such as feeding on unhealthy diets high in fats, sugar and salt,” said counsel Kabanda.

He was speaking at the National Dialogue on regulatory measures to promote Healthy diets using a food system and human rights based approach in Uganda.

Kabanda told the gathering that NCDs account for 33% of the deaths in Uganda, with worrying statistics indicating that vegetables, fruits, maize and beans are contaminated with high levels of marcozade and aflatoxins.

“The food industry normally target children whom the influence through markets,” he said. Edward Mukiibi the President Slow Food Uganda Uganda noted that his investigations in Mityana, Mubende and Mukono had unearthed that most farmers are using chemicals to dry maize and beans that they store ahead of the school opening days ahead. “All these food items are sprayed so as to dry fast. They are then kept in stores before they are supplied to various schools to be consumed by our children,” said Mukiibi.


Some of the panelists present during the National Dialogue held at Piato Hotel in Kampala on Thursday 25 Jan 2024

Agnes Kirabo the Executive Director Food Rights Alliance (FRA) Uganda said soon all children in Uganda who constitute over 65% of the country’s population will be heavily contaminated with aflatoxins. “Due to the high aflatoxins levels consumed by Ugandans, health facilities are now battling with high cases of liver cancer in Uganda,” said Kirabo.

Statistics from the Uganda Cancer Institute reveal that they receive between 170-200 cases of liver cancer per year of which exposure to aflatoxins accounts for between 48-56 cases.

According to the Ministry of Health, government spends UGX 3.12Bn to treat 200 liver cancer patients per year, representing UGX15.6m per patient per year.

Henry Kimera the Executive Director Consumer Consent Uganda noted that aflatoxins are fungai metabolites mainly produced by aspergilius that contaminate foods such as maize, groundnuts and millet.

Nixon Niyonzima the head of Research and Training at the Cancer institute recently told parliament that the 200 cases registered annually is just a drop in the ocean.

The Executive Director UCI Jackson Orem notes that it is practically impossible to wipe out aflatoxins in Uganda, but rather government needs to come up with measures to sensitize the population about the dangers of aflatoxins so as to attain acceptable international standards.

Oscar Kambona the Assistant Commissioner Food Nutrition at the Ministry of Agriculture said the government is coming up with strict regulations and monitoring of food quality and safety/ “We are going to be strict on setting maximum levels, testing samples and enforcing standards,” said Kambona.






Shift Media News

Read Previous

TRIBUTE: Museveni Hails Late Cecelia Ogwal As True Patriot

Read Next

DIGITALIZATION: The Changing Face Of The Media Landscape In Africa

Leave a Reply